August 10, 2019
What do you think of when you hear the word “termination?” Maybe it makes you think of something serious, a kind of forever ending or a movie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. I think of termination as a huge part of therapy, because in psychology, termination is the ending of the therapeutic relationship with a client.
Over the last several weeks, I’ve terminated with all of the clients I’ve been with in session, and it’s bittersweet. I am so proud of the progress the clients have made toward reaching their goals, and I’m going to miss them. I saw assessment scores go from 5s to 8s out of 8, speech go from single words to a whole sentence, attention spans go from a minute to several, and much more. Just like the therapists I worked with, I came to deeply care for my clients, but I understand that therapy cannot last forever. I did my best to help teach my clients, and now it’s my time to go.
The great thing about termination is it’s not a forever goodbye. Clients sometimes choose to come back, for another round of treatment or a booster session. Booster sessions are additional therapy sessions which are conducted periodically after termination.
Just like the clients, I hope to have my own version of a booster session at the ITA and come back to visit. This is my last week, and looking back, I’ve had many amazing experiences and opportunities during my internship. For ITA’s 2020 Integrated Creative Arts Therapy Conference, I helped find the venue, created advertisements and marketing materials, and emailed the Conference Call for Papers to local creative arts therapy schools and organizations. I created the open house flyer and reference guide for future interns curious about reading creative arts therapy literature. I researched local psychologists and creative arts therapy providers in order to help ITA find the best location for a new office. I helped transition ITA’s electronic health records to a new software. Plus, I had many responsibilities during client sessions!
ITA has taught me so much. For example, I learned a lot about what happens outside of the therapy room. In school, I was taught about the theory and techniques used when treating clients, but the work required outside of session was barely ever mentioned. I learned about client note-taking software, took continuing education classes, discussed the validity of assessments, and read what feels like hundreds of research articles, all outside of the therapy room. I also learned a lot about networking and marketing yourself to the public in order to draw in more funds and clientele. I worked with every single member of ITA’s team, from interns all the way up to directors, and that allowed me to work on my interpersonal skills and helped me be a better professional.
Before my time at ITA, I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to get a masters degree or doctorate. After discussing it with my supervisor, I decided on applying for a masters because I need a masters degree in order to become a licensed art therapist, whereas if I get a doctorate, I would receive a different licensure. I also moved my application plans. I originally planned on taking a year off, but now I feel ready to continue my education and will be applying at Adler University and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in the coming months.
My termination at ITA, like my terminations with clients, is bittersweet. I am happy I had the opportunity to learn all that I have here, but I want to stay and do more! Lucky for me, I can come back as a clinical intern during my masters, and receive hours I can put towards getting my art therapy license. Just like Arnold Schwarzenegger, this termination isn’t goodbye, it’s “I’ll be back.”
Alexa is a psychology and studio art double major and art history minor from Chicago, Illinois.